Day 12

Around Skye and to Inverness

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or, about perfect timing

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img0062.jpg (30916 bytes)img0069.jpg (45630 bytes)The first look through the windshield in the morning filled me with childish joy: while millions of the flies were last sighted around the car in the evening, thousands were now lying dead on the windshield. The mixture of nightly rain and residues of the superb German windshield washer fluid apparently have treated the plague with little mercy. Good to see at least some justice in the world.

Being up really early, around 7, I found myself on roads even more empty than usual. In partly rainy weather I have completed a loop around the eastern part of the Isle of Skye, which does not mean too much in kilometers. I found the harbor of Portree in a still rather sleepy mood, where only the fishermen were active. This woke in me again the desire to return to the spectacular mountains of last evening.

img0071.jpg (42825 bytes)img0068.jpg (97340 bytes)On the way back north to the mountains I had to get past some of the local hairy cows. Other than their giant horns these animals are peace in person. They are about as calm and relaxed as a sleeping puppy, just bigger, much bigger. And since they know that nobody means them any harm, they tend to walk down the road where and as long as they please, which at times causes problems with the admittedly rare traffic. Shortly after I managed to pass such a herd of hairy cows, I picked up a couple of Italian hitchhikers who wanted a ride to Portree. Fortunately I have cleaned up the unbelievable mess in the car just moments before, miraculously creating one additional empty seat. This young couple was travelling around northern Europe with the Interrail ticket, facing the problem that there are virtually no trains in Scotland and hence they had to settle for this kind of transportation. They said that even if each time the second car were to stop, this could still take half an hour. However, both spoke excellent English and hence we had a fun hour driving towards the only considerable town of the island.

img0066.jpg (37208 bytes)img0010a.jpg (66839 bytes)When I dropped them off I headed back to the western part of the island. This side is less spectacular than the eastern and even less populated. With quite some surprise I witnessed a mass of the newest technology in the middle of green: a new Ford Mondeo (European equivalent of the Contour) commercial was just being shot at an otherwise truly deserted location. Although not quite the same as Braveheart, filming action nevertheless, and sheep were watching from a safe distance.

img0074.jpg (58841 bytes)Around noon I visited a lighthouse at the northwestern corner of the island. The parking lot was full of cars and featured huge signs inviting people to visit the lighthouse. After a considerable walk up and down some cliffs a tiny note said that sorry, the lighthouse is closed. This made especially some senior citizens rather upset, had they to walk back over the same cliffs again without seeing anything. What we all could see was a fake graveyard in front of the lighthouse which was used for some kind of a gruesome movie. After finishing shooting they simply left the stones there...

img0073.jpg (60232 bytes)img0011a.jpg (87903 bytes)Just as I got back into the car an impressive rainstorm has started. This gave me the opportunity to go into the only restaurant of the nearest town (or better, the town consisted of the restaurant and a few sheep) and get a real lunch. To my pleasure the prices were acceptable, the food was great, and the server looked pretty much like Winnona Ryder. By the time I had satisfied my stomach and eyes the rain had stopped and I could head south in general direction mainland.

img0072.jpg (95062 bytes)Being alone on the now wet winding roads with a car which was born to be driven fast through such courses, I enjoyed for some 30 miles things which are prohibited in the US by cops and in Switzerland usually by traffic density. These are the moments when you can best enjoy 4WD in a normal car. Ask LHB or Edwin for details, and don't do that with a Jeep, kids. The car eventually protested by letting the center brake light fall off the roof, even though it was screwed into the metal frame. Hmmm...

img0058.jpg (123598 bytes)Soon the traffic became denser and the fuel tank empty so I had to reduce speed and entertain myself with the radio. The friendly speaker announced in the news that a dangerous convicted pedophile escaped when being on a surveyed walk away from the jail in a children's amusement park, and that archeologists have found the casket where it is believed the heart of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce was stored. For those who know Scottish history only from Braveheart: that was the bearded guy who first committed treason against Wallace but later saved his butt and finally kicked the English' arses (just after the movie, that is), to put it in the original words. This very same guy supposedly requested that his heart be buried somewhere else in a small box. Now they are trying to find out whether it's authentic or not.

img0059.jpg (63900 bytes)Just barely off Skye I picked up other two hitchhikers, this time from Belgium. The way they spoke one could think they hated their native country and thought that it was boring. We finally agreed that most people think that of their own countries, except maybe those who never left their native town, or those who came back to their senses after seeing the whole world.

img0075.jpg (44893 bytes)img0013a.jpg (70369 bytes)At the southern edge of Loch Ness they headed more south while I was due north. I followed the western shore of famous Loch Ness yet could not see the monster. This prompted me to visit one of the many shops and at least to buy a little Nessie, a stuffed green monster. It shall join my collection of more or less identifiable animals; at least I don't have to find a name for it. Just earlier I witnessed a draw bridge of a special kind being drawn, or rotated for that matter. Barriers went down and the road in front of my eyes simply started to rotate, allowing a few yachts to pass into the Loch. This was rather remarkable and attracted several dozens of onlookers.

img0014a.jpg (87762 bytes)img0076.jpg (79292 bytes)By the evening I got to Inverness and visited the local Safeway. No, that's not a typo, they have such a chain here, too. It has even the same labeling and hence one may conclude that it is the same thing, just imported one way or the other. The big difference is that the UK Safeway doesn't have 24hr opening hours nor free parking, at least not in Inverness. But they had apples, Coke and some French bread, and so I was very satisfied. This provided me with the vitamins and other particles required for a good night's sleep in a forest east of Inverness.

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